Friends

I hope your new year has started off with a BANG!  Every year Carolinas Cornerstone has a spiritual growth renewal.  It is an important part of our growth as a Christian.  We must focus intensely on spiritual growth. 

You might ask, “Why?” Great question! What we have discovered is that most of the problems in our life come from spiritual immaturity.  When we are not spiritually mature, we make dumb decisions.  We build our decisions based on how we feel, which is a terrible plan for making decisions.  A lot of times we say stuff like “Well I just feel like doing it.”  Please let me help you here, your feelings are wrong a lot of the time and you are manipulated by your moods.  Mature people make decisions based on truth, not based on feelings.  So many of the problems in our world today, national debt, people hurting people, talking down to people, and the list goes on, happens because of immaturity.  Most folks don’t know how to do what is wise, how to do what is mature.

 

The Bible is very clear that God wants us to grow.  This is the will of God.  Ephesians 4:14 GWT, “Then we will no longer be little children, tossed and carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like the wind.  We will no longer be influenced by people who use cunning and clever strategies to lead us astray.”

We are not meant to remain as children, but we are meant to grow up and be like Christ.

I want to encourage you to come Sunday morning as we start a new series called “Start…On Your Knees”.  It is about prayer.  There is no greater privilege for anyone than being able to personally talk with and speak into the ears of Almighty God.  There is no issue we are facing that prayer cannot address because nothing is too difficult or impossible for God to handle. 

It should not surprise you and me, then, to discover that the greatest and most spiritually successful men and women in the Bible were always people of prayer.  There are so many examples of this.  Abraham walked by faith but was guided by prayer, and the nations of the world have not been the same because of it.  Moses spoke with God as a man speaks to his friend, receiving God’s guidance and revelation for his leadership decisions.  The world still has the Torah and the Ten Commandments as fruit of it.

If you look at King David, he talked to God “morning, noon, and night” Psalms 55:17.  If you look closer, he wrote the longest book in our Bible.  The Psalms are filled with a plethora of passionate prayers set to song.

Now look to Jesus, He is the ultimate model and Master of prayer.  Start at His birth, Jesus and His family were greeted in the temple by Anna, a widow who served God in prayer day and night.  At the start of His public ministry, He rose up out of the water at His baptism, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended while He was praying. 

Before Jesus choose His disciples, Jesus spent all night in prayer to God.  As they followed Him, they discovered His private habit was to rise early and pray before the sun rose.  When Jesus’ popularity was exploding, He would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. 

Before His betrayal and crucifixion, Jesus knelt alone in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed so deeply and desperately that His sweat literally became drops of blood.  Even at the cross He prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34 NIV).  With all that Jesus has done for us, He wants us to grow up spiritually.

This week’s sermon is called “We Gotta GROW!”  Our spiritual growth must be intentional.  Paul writes in Philippians 2:12-13 NIV, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.”  

Growth in the human soul requires a commitment to grow.  A person must want to grow, decide to grow, and try to grow.  Spiritual growth begins with a decision.  It does not have to be a complex decision, but it does have to be sincere.  When Jesus’ followers decided to choose His way, they did not understand all the implications of their decision.  They simply expressed a desire to follow Him, and that was the beginning of an exciting journey of the soul.  Jesus took that simple but sincere decision and built upon it.

When you read Philippians 2:12-13, Paul offers insight into spiritual growth while speaking to people who already believe.  Notice that it says, “work out” — not “work on” — your salvation.  There is nothing you can do to save yourself spiritually; Christ took care of that with His life, death, and Resurrection.  The important thing to note is that God has a part in our growth — but so do we.  We must make an intentional effort to grow.

One last thing, you and I need each other to grow in Christ.  You cannot grow to Christlikeness in isolation.  You must be around other people and interact with them. You need to be part of a church and a Life Group. 

 

God uses His Word, people, and circumstances to mold us.  All three are crucial for character development.  

·         God’s Word provides the truth we need to grow

·         God’s people provide the support we need to grow

·         Circumstances provide the environment to practice Christlikeness

If you study and apply God’s Word, connect regularly with other believers, and learn to trust God in difficult circumstances, I guarantee you will become more like Jesus.

I want to challenge you over the next 60 days that you will start praying like never before!  Do what King David did, pray morning, noon, and night. 

Make Every Day Count!

Barry

Start the New Year off right Come to Church Sunday